<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Wed, 10 Feb 2016 12:08:54 -0800 Wed, 10 Feb 2016 12:08:54 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA['I've Got This:' TV Reporter Hurt by Falling Tree]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:52:38 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marie-Coronel-FB-photo-2015.jpg

A television reporter seriously injured by a toppling tree in an El Nino storm shared details on her recovery for the first time since surgery.

“Every message reminds me that I've got this,” Marie Coronel posted to social media Wednesday, referring to messages from friends and other supporters.

“How can you not keep fighting with so many cheerleaders,” she asked.

Coronel was covering the effects of the storm with photojournalist Mike Gold in Mira Mesa on Feb. 1 when the two were struck by a falling tree.

Gold, who called 911 immediately after being hit, suffered a compound leg fracture.

Coronel had more extensive injuries and underwent surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital.

On Wednesday, she said her doctors believe she has made progress.

“Never realized how simple tasks like walking could be so tough,” Coronel wrote.

“I am fighting through my injuries one goal at a time,” she continued while thanking the medical staff that is helping in her recovery.

Coronel also mentioned the San Diego woman who was killed by a falling tree in Pacific Beach the day before she and Gold were injured.

"My heart goes out to the friends and family of Nicki Carano, who was killed in the storm the day before I was injured," she wrote.

Carano, a professional drummer vocalist and dancer, was on her way to a gig Jan. 31, at around 3 p.m. when winds knocked down a large tree, crushing Carano's car.

Station management at KGTV has reported Coronel and Gold are expected to make a full recovery.

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Gold described the tense and uncertain moments while the news crew waited for help.

“At that moment she was in shock and terrified she was going to die,” Gold told the paper.

Gold had to direct emergency responders to the two’s whereabouts as it was pitch dark and the two were covered by branches, he told the newspaper.

Photo Credit: Facebook
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Theft, Vandalism in Carlsbad Shopping Center Debate]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 07:16:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Carlsbad-Measure-A-signs.jpg

The already heated debate over a proposed new shopping center on the shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon has just taken an ugly turn. Carlsbad Police are investigating a number of complaints concerning stolen and vandalized political signs.

In just two weeks Carlsbad residents will go to the polls to vote on Measure A, which, if passed, would pave the way to a 27-acre outdoor mall.

Passions on both sides of this issue are turning neighbor against neighbor.

Melanie Murnane is against the mall project. Twice Tuesday she returned to Cannon Road to readjust her "No on Measure A" sign. She says proponents keep blocking it.

“They place their signs right in front of ours,” Murnane said.

Further south, closer to Omni La Costa resort Bob Christiansen reported on the Carlsbad NextDoor app.

He said his signs in support of the measure were stolen from his front yard.

“I'm very concerned about my private property. I am very concerned about people coming on my private property and taking what's not theirs,” Christiansen said.

Carlsbad police say they've received six stolen sign complaints and one vandalism complaint in which the word "No" was drawn over a sign supporting the proposed project.

“I just think it is wrong - period,” Christiansen said.

“There are probably high school students out taking campaign signs that's not condoned on either side,” Murnane said.

While there is no compromise between these two sides, both sides agree on one thing - leave the signs alone.

If you have information about these complaints or would like to report one of your own you can do so by calling Carlsbad Police's non-emergency police phone number (760) 931-2197.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA['It's Not Fair:' Parents Plea to Revoke Son's Suspension]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 06:50:38 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sam-serrato-board-meeting.jpg

Hundreds of North County community members are rallying behind a San Pasqual High School junior after he was suspended for what his family calls an accident and a misunderstanding.

They said, on January 27, 16-year-old Sam Serrato drove his father’s car to school. A family friend said a security K9 detected drugs, which ended up being Advil. Also in the car, officials found a pocket knife. It belongs to his father who had purchased it at a swap meet weeks prior. He said he and his son had forgotten about it.

As a result of that pocket knife, high school officials suspended the teen. Serrato is an honor roll student and active athlete. His family said he had never gotten into trouble before.

“It’s not fair. It’s been two weeks and he’s changing on me. It’s not fair! It’s horrible what you’re doing to him because of a mistake!” said Yvonne Serrato, Sam’s mother tearfully at a school board meeting.

Hundreds of people packed the room at the Escondido Union High School office Tuesday evening. Legally, board members are required to follow due process so they could not take action. Still, some board members went back and forth on how to deal with the situation.

“Maybe there’s some way to put this kid back in school. Something,” expressed board member Bill Durney.

“There is a process in place. There are things going on and we don’t have all the information,” responded board member Christina Knight.

NBC 7 reached out to high school officials Tuesday, but did not hear back.

Serrato’s hearing is scheduled for February 25.

<![CDATA[Ballot Measure Bonanza: Chargers Stadium Moves Forward]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 07:25:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/qualcomm+stadium+generic.JPG

If you’ve ever wondered how many ballot measures asking voters for permission to spend more official funds could possibly be tolerated in one election cycle, November is looking like the perfect petri dish.

Already, we have heard of six separate initiatives making their way to the November ballot. Those measures range from dealing with spending more on roads, dishing out cash for infrastructure or fire stations, to a possible Convention Center expansion.

Now, San Diegans are even looking at the possibility of dueling stadium proposals.

The Chargers announced Monday they are going “all in” on a San Diego stadium initiative campaign, with a pledged $10 million in financing to sway voters to subsidize a stadium. It means the Chargers have a lot of attention-grabbing to do between now and March when the signature gathering process will have to begin.

Whether they love the Chargers or hate them, most people don’t support spending public dollars on a stadium, according to multiple local polls and surveys, including one done by the Chargers themselves.

“How about winning? Let’s start to win and then maybe we could consider throwing money, but we need potholes filled around here. We need infrastructure filled around here. We’ve got broken pipes happening down here,” said Jaron Wright in the Gaslamp Tuesday. “I think they kind of blew it. I think a lot of fans are going to be ticked about them being willing to just up and leave.”

Councilman Scott Sherman says he thinks the city can make the hard sell.

“Well, one, we’re going to take it to the voters to let them decide, which is big,” Sherman said. “Two, it’s not going to be raising any taxes. Right now, as it stands, we lose $10 million a year. So, why not re-purpose that money over 20 years and get a new stadium?”

The City Council Tuesday discussed deadlines for June ballot measures, which have mostly passed.

Stadium supporters are already on deadline for a November ballot to ask voters to support building a stadium in San Diego.

In an online video the Chargers released Monday, Dean Spanos talks about his decision to hire Fred Maas, a political insider with experience in downtown redevelopment.

Spanos said he isn’t dead-set on a downtown location anymore, but instead committed to finding a solution.

He said he hired Maas for a fresh, objective pair of eyes on the issue.

<![CDATA[Tax Season: What Your CPA Needs From You]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:46:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/210*120/GettyImages-88160312.jpg

Nobody benefits from wasting an hour rifling through receipts and guessing about numbers with your Certified Public Accountant during tax time.

Your CPA needs the following four categories of information to prepare your taxes properly. Make sure to bring all the necessary forms and receipts and organize them so that they may be found quickly.

Identification and Basic Information 
For any new relationships, you will need to supply identification for you, your spouse, and all dependents claimed. Social Security cards are preferred, but other government-issued ID is usually acceptable. Check with your preparer before you visit.

Other basic information includes your address, your previous year’s tax form, and any information relating to a change in your tax status such as inheritance, marriage/divorce, and change in dependents. The IRS is cracking down on cases of divorced spouses filing separately but claiming the same child as a dependent, so make sure that situation is clarified if it applies to you.

Income Documents
Most taxable income will be summarized in standard IRS forms sent by payers – W-2 forms for traditional salaries, wages, bonuses, and tips; 1099 forms for self-employment, independent contracting, and most investment and interest income; and K-1 forms for personal taxes relating to ownership (S-corporations, partnerships, LLC’s, and trust/estate incomes).

Each income source owes you a corresponding form. There are many variations of the 1099 form related to specific sources; check the IRS website if you are missing a form and are not sure what type of form you should receive.

It is up to you to supply documents, such as bank statements, spreadsheets, or written summaries, for any income not covered by these forms. These sources include rental income, alimony, and self-employment income below the $600 limit that triggers a 1099-MISC.

Expense Documents
Expenses such as mortgage interest, larger charitable contributions, and student loan interest will be documented on a 1098 form. Many other potential deductions such as medical expenses, property taxes, moving expenses and childcare/daycare costs require verification through receipts, cancelled checks, statements, or spreadsheets.

Your CPA may be able to help you find extra deductions that make itemizing worthwhile or save money on your current itemizing, but he or she must know what types of expenses you have. Ask for a checklist of potential deductions in advance so you can research possibilities prior to your meeting. If your CPA doesn’t have a checklist, there are many available online.

Do your homework to consider all possible deductions, then organize and bring any documentation you think may be relevant.

Don’t forget to include documents relating to unusual or catastrophic claims such as theft and casualty losses and losses from natural disasters. If you deduct these losses, be sure you include any reimbursements toward your losses when tallying your income.

Health Insurance Information
If you purchased health insurance through the Marketplace, you will need to bring the 1095-A form issued by the exchange. It contains the insurance premium and subsidy information for you and your family members. Your CPA will use it to fill out other forms that may apply to your situation, such as the Premium Tax Credit form (Form 8962) and the Health Coverage Exemption form (Form 8965).

If you qualified for subsidies, it may be helpful to have the income estimate used to calculate your tax subsidy. Your tax preparer may need that estimate if your income differed greatly from the estimate and you end up with a large subsidy repayment to defend (or refund to claim).

You may also need to provide information on payment or refund methods. If you intend to use electronic payment methods, you will need information such as your account number and the bank’s routing number. That is not necessarily the number printed on your check – verify the correct information with your bank.

With proper preparation, nothing will go wasted during your tax preparation trip to the CPA – none of your time, your CPA’s time, or your money.

This article was provided by our partners at moneytips.com

How to Pay the Government Less Money Legally
Tax Preparation Software
Free Tax Preparation

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pelosi, House Dems Hold Flint Water Hearing]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:53:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flint-AP_225411260233.jpg

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic's partisan Steering and Policy Committee will hold a hearing on the Flint Water Crisis Wednesday.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will be among those to testify. Notably absent will be Gov. Rick Snyder, who declined an invitation to testify at Wednesday's hearing. 

Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said Monday that the governor won’t attend because he’s due to present his annual budget proposal that day in Michigan. The committee does not have subpoena power.

It will be the second by lawmakers on Flint's lead contamination, and the second at which Snyder will not testify.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya/File
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Intoxicated Passenger Made Threats to Crew: Rep.]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:38:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Alaska-Airlines-Disruptive-Passenger.jpg

An Alaska Airlines flight from Boston to San Diego was diverted to Denver after an intoxicated passenger became disruptive and threatened crew members, according to airline spokeswoman Ann Zaninovich.

The male passenger was sitting in aisle 13 on Flight 769, Zaninovich said. Flight attendants told him to calm down, but he became agitated and verbally abusive. At one point, she said, he threatened the flight crew. 

Bridget Sullivan, a 17-year-old high school student from Wilmington, Massachusetts, told NBC the unruly passenger "would not stay seated during the flight and he kept his sunglasses on the whole time." According to Sullivan, "the word spread around the plane that the man was on drugs or something similar."

Sullivan said the beverage cart was placed next to his seat to prevent the man from getting up.

She said passengers were not informed they would be landing in Denver because the flight crew didn't want the disruptive man to know he would be escorted off.

There was a law enforcement officer on board, Zaninovich said, but it's unclear if he played a role. 

When the situation escalated, the flight captain decided to land at the closest airport, Denver International Airport, "out of an abundance of caution," according to Zaninovich. 

The plane landed safely around 8:30 p.m. MT, according to Denver Airport spokesman Heath Montgomery. Denver Airport Police met the flight at the gate and removed the passenger, Zaninovich said. 

The Transportation Safety Administration also responded but deemed the incident a "customer service issue," according to Montgomery.

Flight 769 continued on to San Diego after 45 minutes in Denver and was expected to land at 10:50 p.m. PT. 

Montgomery said no charges were filed in connection with the incident.

Photo Credit: Viewer Photo
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Navy Budget Cuts: More Missiles, Fewer Sailors]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 10:23:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Navy-long-range-missile-princeton.jpg

The U.S. Navy's 2017 budget proposal calls for more missiles but fewer sailors.

In all, $8.2 billion will be trimmed from last year's balance sheet, creating a net loss of 6,300 sailors for the U.S. military branch.

The Navy will also purchase of one less lattoral combat ship like USS Coronado, which is home-ported at 32nd Street.

The Pentagon will invest in more long-range, air-to-ground, and anti-ship missiles than it did last year.

It is not yet known how the upcoming cuts will affect local bases.

In 2013, Navy-wide budget cuts created a more than $4 billion shortfall and resulted in the cancellation of ship and aircraft maintenance.

Photo Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez]]>
<![CDATA[Robert Kennedy's Assassin to Seek Parole Again]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 05:43:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Sirhan-Sirhan-Booking-SanDiego.jpg

Robert F. Kennedy's assasin continues to seek parole and on Wednesday, Sirhan B. Sirhan will take his 14th try hearing. 

Sirhan, now 71, has said for many years that he doesn't remember shooting Kennedy, who was 42. But he shot Kennedy on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles just after he'd won the state's Democratic presidential primary. The younger brother of President John F. Kennedy died the next day.

Sirhan, a Christian-born Palestinian from Jordan, opposed Kennedy's support for Israel and killed him for this reason.

At his last parole hearing in 2011 — his 13th unsuccessful attempt to win his freedom — parole commissioners said Sirhan hadn't shown enough remorse for or understanding of the severity of his crime.

<![CDATA[Did Exxon Hide Oil Tanker Overseas to Drive Up Gas Prices?]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 18:18:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/4PT_PKG_EXXON_GAS_PRICE_KNSD880Q_1200x675_619778115963.jpg

 California drivers pay more to fill their gas tank than drivers across the country, but Consumer Watchdog says that's because big oil companies manipulate the fuel supply.

The consumer group released a study this week saying drivers spent 2015 paying much more for gasoline than other driver because of a "mystery ship" owned by Exxon Mobile. 

When the Exxon refinery exploded last February in Torrance, it reduced the capacity of supply in Southern California. The Consumer Watchdog study finds Exxon Mobil could have increased its supply by transporting fuel from out-of-state refineries, even refineries in foreign countries. But what about the damaged refinery in the Los Angeles area?

"What this report shows is that Exxon Mobil doesn't even need that refinery," said gas industry analyst Charles Langley. "They have refineries all over the world that can produce high quality California gasoline and import it."

However, the Consumer Watchdog study claims that instead of replenishing the fuel, Exxon "hid" one of its oil tankers near Singapore. There are two refineries there that can produce California blended gas.

Instead, the report claims Exxon moved the ship around for 70 days and made no attempt to bring fuel to California. When it did arrive, on one occasion the ship was empty, and on a second visit, it  stopped in a Los Angeles port and then delivered its gas to Florida.

Langley says that is done to manipulate the market, to create panic and raise prices.

"If they can restrict supply the price goes up and they make more money than when there is an abundant supply of gasoline," said Langley.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Todd Spitler told the Associate Press and Los Angeles Times, "Exxon Mobil rejects these allegations and is committed to the highest standards of business conduct, has operated responsibly and in strict compliance with all laws."

<![CDATA['Free Ponies for All' Candidate Vermin Supreme Finishes 4th in NH Primary]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:22:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/verminsupreme.jpg

Pony-loving, boot wearing Vermin Supreme finished fourth among Democrats in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in a rout. Martin O'Malley, who dropped out of the race after the Iowa Caucus, finished a distant third.

But the fourth place finisher was a name familiar to many New Hampshire voters: Massachusetts resident Vermin Supreme, the perennial candidate best known for his campaign platform to provide free ponies to every American.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Supreme received 257 votes, only slightly less than half of the 622 votes O'Malley received. That's also more than Republicans Mike Huckabee (214), Rick Santorum (197), Jim Gilmore (132), George Pataki (79) and Bobby Jindal (50) tallied. In their defense, though, all but Gilmore had already dropped out of the race.

With his large beard and boot hat, Supreme has become somewhat of a cult figure in New Hampshire, where he spent a great deal of time attending candidate events and handing out candy. He was banned from the annual "Lesser Known Candidates Forum" at Saint Anselm College this year after he famously glitter-bombed the event four years ago, causing a mess that proved costly for the college to clean up.

He also hosted a giant party and concert over Labor Day weekend. "Burning Vermin: Vermin Supreme Labor Day Telethon Money Bomb," was held at a farm in Croydon, New Hampshire, and featured a pig roast, bands and readings by Supreme.

Photo Credit: necn/Marc Fortier]]>
<![CDATA[DOJ Exploring Legal Action Against Ferguson]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 12:02:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_882904166282.jpg

The Department of Justice is mulling legal action against the city of Ferguson, Missouri after the city council moved to make several major revisions to a proposed federal consent decree.

The revisions called for by the Ferguson City Council, among other things, would require no mandate for payment of additional salary to police officers or jail staff, a cap on federal monitoring fees at $1 million and extended deadlines for the tentative agreement.

"The Ferguson City Council has attempted to unilaterally amend the negotiated agreement. Their vote to do so creates an unnecessary delay in the essential work to bring constitutional policing to the city, and marks an unfortunate outcome for concerned community members and Ferguson police officers," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta balked, hours after the city council voted to approve the agreement contingent upon the DOJ consenting to the changes.

"The Department of Justice will take the necessary legal actions to ensure that Ferguson's policing and court practices comply with the Constitution and relevant federal laws," Gupta said.

Photo Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson]]>
<![CDATA[70 Percent of Bay Area Rapid Transit's Cameras Are Fake]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 08:00:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bart-cam-split-jodi.jpg

Out of nearly 700 BART cars with cameras on board, 70 percent are decoys, NBC Bay Area has learned.

An additional 7 percent are either not working or not active, leaving 23 percent of the agency's surveillance cameras in good working order.

Those numbers came to light officially on Tuesday following a California Public Records request seeking information regarding the transit agency's working cameras. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported that Bay Area Rapid Transit used some percentage of fake cameras after a fatal shooting at the West Oakland BART station on Jan. 9.

Until now, the total number of real and fake cameras was not formally made public.

But, in a letter from BART's counsel, the transit agency acknowledged that 470 of the 669 BART cars have decoy cameras, nine aren't working and 39 are in an experimental stage. BART says all the cameras on its platforms are real and in working order.

The fact that the vast majority of BART cameras are plastic decoys with blinking LED lights surprised politicians and leaders when the news was revealed in mid January.  BART then announced the agency would buy real cameras on the trains, a fact that spokeswoman Alicia Trost reiterated on Tuesday.

"Once the public felt they weren't safe, we said we'd buy the cameras," Trost said. She said the decoy cameras were originally bought in the 1990s as anti-graffiti crime deterrents. "And they worked," she added.

Still, the public outcry pushed BART to purchase the new cameras, which need to be installed a few at a time during off hours. Trost said she did not know just how long that would take. BART said the new cameras would cost $1.42 million and come out of the agency's operational budget.

She also added that many transit agencies do not use any cameras at all on their trains, though the Chicago Transit Agency boasts 23,000 working surveillance cameras, which have led to the arrests of 926 people since June 2011.

But when 19-year-old Carlos Misael Funez-Romero of Antioch was killed on a BART train -- the first such death since the 1990s -- the public wanted video of it. It was then that the news about BART's non-working cameras came to light.

There is a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez/NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[German Rail Collision: Investigators Face 'Long and Complex Investigation']]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 07:31:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-509329228.jpg

Officials were facing a "long and complex investigation" Wednesday into whether human error or technical fault caused a deadly high-speed collision between two commuter trains in southern Germany, NBC News reported.

Like most German railway lines, the track was fitted with a safety measure designed to force trains heading toward each other to brake.

The trains were supposed to pass at a station where the track divided — instead they slammed into each other on a curve, meaning their drivers would likely not have seen each other until it was too late, according to The Associated Press.

Ten people were killed and another 17 severely injured the crash near Bad Aibling on Tuesday. 

Photo Credit: Lennart Preiss/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Olympic Training Center to Be Transferred to City of Chula Vista]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 18:52:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Olympic-Training-Center-060715.jpg

The Chula Vista City Council has approved the transfer of the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) and will take over the center, sitting on the city's land. 

In recent years, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced it was shifting its strategy away from operating its own buildings and fields.

Under the local center’s land agreement, the city of Chula Vista was first in line to decide if it wanted to take over its operation, which staff began researching last June.

Negotiations with the USOC led to an agreement that would transfer ownership to Chula Vista and make the USOC its primary tenant for at least four years.

The city council approved the plan to take over the center. 

Originally opened in 1995, the OTC is 155-acre complex with four turf soccer fields, six volleyball courts, three BMX tracks and a 5,400 square-foot strength and conditioning center.

It has an operating budget of $8 million a year, but city officials previously told NBC 7 they may have to change the center’s operating model to make sure taxpayer money is not used.

Chula Vista’s Deputy City Manager Kelley Bacon said they are planning to make the space more open to the public and to hold community events to get people excited about sports.

<![CDATA[SDUSD Board to Replace Trustee Marne Foster]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:27:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/4PW_VO_MARNE_FOSTER_LAT_KNSD793O_1200x675_527108675604.jpg

At its Tuesday public meeting, the San Diego Unified School Board approved a plan to appoint an interim trustee to replace former Trustee Marne Foster, who resigned last week after pleading guilty to receiving gifts in excess of the legal limit.

The remaining board members will appoint someone to fill Foster’s vacant seat for Sub-District E in the interim, SDUSD spokeswoman Linda Zintz told NBC 7 San Diego. 

Current SDUSD Board President Michael McQuary held a news conference before the meeting, explaining that a special election is neither doable or economical. 

Their staff was also able to give candidate recommendations, the public can comment on those choices and the board will then discuss and debate them. The board has 30 days to fill Foster's seat, which would give them until March 8.

They also plan to revisit their ethics training and policies to avoid repeating Foster’s case.

"We know that the public wants to understand what happened, they want to know what the issues were, they want clarity, they want confirmation," said McQuary. "And this district has worked to establish that. When there were questions about about employee actions, we had our internal investigations take a look at that." 

A search warrant released Thursday revealed why Foster pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count. In 2014, her son received money from a local couple to attend a theater camp in Seattle, as well as airfare there and back. They also provided him with roundtrip tickets to New York, where he was going to college, and paid for Foster to stay in a hotel there.

Foster did not claim the gifts on her statement of economic interests to the Fair Political Practices Commission, though they were added on an amended form later. The amount donated exceeded the allowable legal limit.

After serving the search warrant to the school district, the District Attorney’s office announced it had opened a criminal investigation into Foster’s actions late last year. This came after the SDUSD board had initiated its own civil investigation.

The day they commissioned the investigation, the board members also honored Foster for the work she has done with the district. The move garnered criticism from community activists, who believe the board did not handle the situation ethically.

McQuary told NBC 7 the ceremony was the right thing to do and the board responded correctly with the information it had.

While she served as the president of the SDUSD board, Foster was also accused of creating an administrative shakeup at the School of Creative and Performing Arts, her son’s school, that left the principal reassigned and a counselor suspended.

Upset over a negative college evaluation written about her son, Foster told SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten that she wanted to sue the school district, Marten told San Diego County District Attorney investigators.

Later in the year, a $250,000 claim was filed against the SDUSD on behalf of Foster’s son, but it was not signed by his mother. Instead, the claim bore the name of John Marsh, the teen’s father who had been living with Foster and her children.

However, Marsh told the DA investigator that he did not write up the claim. According to the warrant, he remembered Foster coming up to him and demanding that he sign a blank complaint form.

Foster has denied any involvement in the claim.

The former trustee has said she made a mistake when she held a fundraiser for her sons’ college tuition, inviting people who conducted business with the school district and presented possible conflicts of interest.

<![CDATA[Backpackers Escape Alleged Kidnap, Murder Attempt in Australia]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 07:06:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-566354117.jpg

Two female backpackers in rural Australia narrowly escaped with their lives after a man they were camping with held them captive and attempted to kill them, police and local media said.

Superintendent James Blandford told reporters the backpackers were rescued after one of the women managed to escape Tuesday and ran into a group of fishermen, who called police.

The women suffered serious injuries during the ordeal in the remote Coorong National Park, around 100 miles outside the southern city of Adelaide, South Australia Police said in a statement early Wednesday.

A 59-year-old man was arrested near the scene and charged with kidnapping and attempted murder, the police statement added. It did not identify the victims or the suspect. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Gymnast's Dab, Nae Nae Routine Goes Viral]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 01:09:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/2-9_1Sophina+DeJesus+UCLA+Gymnastics.jpg

With an enthusiastic whip, nae nae and dab, Sophina DeJesus helped UCLA's women's gymnastics team secure not just a close win, but also national headlines.

After years of perfecting her floor tricks, DeJesus, a star on the uneven bars, found it was her time to shine on the mat last Saturday. Landing a front layout in the splits and nae nae-ing across the floor were just a few highlights from her performance.

"We've wanted to get her on floor for four years," Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field said.

Though DeJesus is not a naturally strong tumbler, her dancing skills, honed from an early career as a professional dancer, earned her the opportunity to compete for the team.

"The crowd deserves to see her perform," Field said. "It actually turned out better than I had hoped."

Competing on the floor for the first time ever, the UCLA senior rocked Pauley Pavilion with a hip-hop-inspired routine, earning herself and her team a score of 9.925 out of a maximum 10 points. By the end of the evening, DeJesus' team reached a season-high score on floor and won by the smallest margin possible in a collegiate competition.

"It's like winning by half of a dunk," Field said.

When the last event, floor, came around, she and the team didn't think they had a chance of winning. "0.025 is like a finger was out of place," she said.

DeJesus' unique choreography is symbolic of the spirit of the UCLA women's gymnastics team. Field, who choreographs the women's routines, incorporates moves with "entertainment value" into her team's floor routines.

"The six routines I put out there is a mini stage event," Field said. "I want the audience to see a different style from each one of our athletes."

Under her guidance, her athletes don't use traditional tactics like playing to the judges and using the floor's four corners to dictate their movement. Rather, they face the audience for their signature moves and make eye contact with their supporters.

"I choreograph the face as much as the whole body," Field said. "I think that's freaky to make eye contact with judges."

Her untraditional style, she hopes, gets students "as excited to see [floor routines] as a slam dunk in basketball."

When senior Danusia Francis does her best James Bond impression or junior Angi Cipra mimes pulling out her phone on the square mat, the student audience plays along with them.

"Every person in Pauley Pavilion is part of the show," Field said. "People have said it reminds them of Pauley when basketball was on a roll and it was standing room only."

The 7,500 people in attendance weren't the only ones that DeJesus wowed on Saturday. Clips of her moves have gone viral on social media, and a YouTube video of her whole routine has racked up more than a million views in three days.

"I knew that if we could bring Soph out there it would bring a level of entertainment that you don't usually see in floor routines," Kondos Field said.

Photo Credit: UCLA
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy, Found With Rubber Band in Neck, Looking for New Home]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:20:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DOGRUBBERBANDPIC-PIC_0.jpg

 A three month old Labrador mix is looking for a new home after she was dropped off at a San Diego-area shelter with a rubber band embedded deep into her skin.

Bindy, as staff now call her, was dropped off at at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services last week. With the dog, the person left a note saying they had found the animal on a street in City Heights. 


Staffers rushed her into immediate surgery when they found a rubber band slightly bigger than a quarter embedded deep into her skin, cutting so far into the skin they did not notice it at first. 

The DAS transferred the puppy to the Rancho Coastal Humane Society and staff there are now handling her adoption. The pup has been in foster care since Friday. 

Bindy will be available for adoption starting Wednesday at 11 a.m. 


Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Phone Threats Target 4 High Schools]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:17:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/La-Jolla-High-School-Google-Maps.jpg

Four San Diego-area high schools were ordered to shelter-in-place Tuesday morning due to a series of back-to-back, unspecified threats made by phone, school district officials confirmed.

The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) said La Jolla, Lincoln, Scripps Ranch and San Ysidro high schools were told to "shelter-in-place as a precaution due to threats" as of 11:10 a.m. Officials posted the information on SDUSD's Twitter feed:


Staffers and school police searched the interiors and exteriors of the campuses.

Linda Zintz, spokesperson with SDUSD, said threats came in, individually and just minutes apart, via telephone to each campus beginning around 10:25 a.m., then at 10:27 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

As a precaution, each campus was put in shelter-in-place mode while the threats were investigated.

Zintz said she did not know if the calls had been traced to one suspect or several suspects, as the investigation is ongoing.

By 11:22 a.m., several San Diego Police Department (SDPD) vehicles could be seen at the La Jolla High School campus located at 750 Nautilus St. By 11:34 a.m., aerial footage from NBC 7's news chopper showed a California Highway Patrol vehicle and SDPD vehicle in the parking lot outside Scripps Ranch High School located at 10410 Treena St.

Lincoln High School is located at 4777 Imperial Ave., while San Ysidro High School, which is part of SUHSD, is located at 5353 Airway Rd. Each school targeted in Tuesday's threats is responsible for educating between approximately 1,650 and 2,400 students.

SDUSD officials said all students and faculty were safe, and parents of students at each school had been notified.

By 11:42 a.m., SDUSD officials tweeted that Lincoln and Scripps Ranch high schools had been cleared, and that classes would resume as usual.


At 12:04 p.m., La Jolla High School was cleared and classes there also resumed as normal, SDUSD officials tweeted.


By 12:18 p.m., school district officials gave the "all clear" for all four high schools and said campus police were handling the investigation.


Manny Rubio, a spokesperson for SUHSD, said the threat at San Ysidro High School involved someone calling the school to say there was a bomb placed on campus. Rubio said officers swept the campus and found nothing. Normal operations resumed at that school, too.


Zintz said SDUSD schools experienced at least 10 lockdowns in the fall of 2015. She said a task force is being established to oversee these kinds of situations and various agencies are participating in those efforts.

Zintz said school police are in constant communication with law enforcement during these types of incidents, including the San Diego Police Department.

On Tuesday, as the shelter-in-place orders went into effect, Zintz said SDUSD’s police chief was “immediately in contact” with SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman.

No further details about the threats were immediately released. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Google Maps
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Sprinter Strikes, Kills 1 in San Marcos]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:58:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pedestrian-sprinter-death-020916.jpg

A person was struck and killed by a Sprinter train Tuesday less than a mile from the Palomar College station in San Marcos.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the intersection of W Mission and Knoll roads at milepost market 118.9 just before 1 p.m. Tuesday. 

The train was traveling at approximately 45 miles per hour when the operator saw a pedestrian next to the stracks. The conductor activated the emergency brakes after first spotting the pedestrian, but could not stop in time. 

A pedestrian described by officials as an adult male was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sgt. Jason King said deputies were interviewing witnesses but could not speculate on how the man found himself in the path of the oncoming train.

The North County Transit District said the Sprinter service in San Marcos may be delayed as a result of the investigation. 

The Sheriff's Transit Enforcement Unit will investigate. 

No further information was immediately available.

<![CDATA[San Diego Breweries Named Among Best in World]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:18:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ratebeer_Ryan_Medals.jpg

San Diego is known as a hub for craft beer, but according to one well-known beer ranking website, the city is also home to many of the top breweries in the world.

RateBeer.com – a website that compiles stats and ratings on beers and breweries around the world – held its “Best Awards Ceremony and Beer Festival” in Santa Rosa, California, on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31. There, the top 2015 breweries for each state were named, as well as the best brews across the globe.

Of the top 10 breweries around the world, San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company ranked No. 2, while Alpine Beer Company ranked No. 6.

Other San Diego-based breweries that rounded out the top 100 best in the world: Green Flash Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing Company, Modern Times Beer and Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey.

The top brewers were tallied according to a summary score based on all available reviews on the RateBeer website that includes historical all-round performance and a brewer’s range of performance across styles. More than 22,500 breweries were considered for the honors.

AleSmith Brewing Company also scored another major achievement from RateBeer: it was named the best brewery in the entire state of California.

A variety of beers made by AleSmith were also recognized, including AleSmith Velvet Speedway Stout (top new beer release in the world), AleSmith IPA, AleSmith Speedway Stout and Bourbon Barrel-Aged AleSmith Old Numbskull Barleywine (top beers in the world).

AleSmith CEO and brewmaster Peter Zien said the accolades mean a lot to the brewery, given that RateBeer is driven by beer enthusiasts.

“Humility is a highly valued quality here at AleSmith. We love our beers, but prefer to let fans of craft beer do the talking when it comes to our family of ales. So it’s particularly gratifying to receive such incredible accolades from a consistently reliable, fan-driven entity like RateBeer,” Zien said.

Meanwhile, Alpine Beer Company also celebrated its sixth place worldwide ranking, posting this message on Facebook thanking devoted fans:

"We are thrilled to share that at this past weekend's RateBeer Best Beer Festival, RateBeer ranked us #6 in the 2015 "Top Brewers in the World!" We're so honored to receive this recognition and couldn't have done it without our loyal fans. Thank you all!"

AleSmith Brewing Company was founded in 1995 and celebrated its 20th anniversary in production last year by opening a new, upgraded brewery and tasting room in Miramar, located at 9990 AleSmith Ct. The 105,500-square-foot brewery boasts an 80-barrel brewing system with the capability to pump out more than 100,000 barrels of brew per year.

Alpine Beer Company opened in the fall of 2002 on Alpine Blvd. in San Diego’s East County. In early 2010, the brewery opened a tiny, 36-seat pub. By June 2015, the pub moved to a more spacious, 180-seat location with an indoor and outdoor bar on Tavern Road.

To read the full list of top breweries recognized in the RateBeer awards ceremony, click here.

Photo Credit: AleSmith Brewing Company]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Returns to Illinois]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:59:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Obama+Springfield.png

President Barack Obama touched down in Air Force One in Springfield Wednesday morning prepared to make history and become the fourth U.S. president to address the Illinois General Assembly.

It has been nearly four decades since a president made such an address in Illinois, the last time being when Jimmy Carter spoke to the state’s lawmaking body in 1978. The difference in Obama’s visit is that he is first president to have served in the General Assembly and also address them.

Nine years ago was Obama’s last time in Springfield for the frigid February announcement of his candidacy for president. Springfield was just as bitter cold for his arrival Wednesday as it was then, but the welcome for the president was warm. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner met Obama at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport around 11:20 a.m. Also greeting Obama when he arrived was Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder, who was elected last year. 

"It's pretty exciting," Langfelder said. "It's the chance of a lifetime."

Obama spoke on unity and bipartisanship before, ironically, a body that exhibits neither in Illinois, nor does it in Congress in Washington. The address comes amid a historic state budget impasse in Illinois.

As his address began, so did the farewell tour of his last year in office.

"It's great to see so many old friends," Obama said at the start of his address to a standing ovation. "I missed you guys."

Most of his speech centered around what he called "better politics" and the need to fix the "poisonous political climate that pushes people away from participating."

"As an American citizen I understand that our progress is not inevitable. Our progress has never been inevitable," he said. "It must be fought for and won."

He emphasized the need for compromise between parties, noting that 

"In a big complicated democracy like ours if we can’t compromise by definition we can’t govern ourselves," he said, noting that "trying to find common ground doesn't make me less of a democrat or less of a progressive." 

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama accepts that his call for better politics will be hard.

"It is a lot easier to be cynical than to accept that change is possible," he said. "The president will again call on a politics of hard-won hope."

Rauner said in a statement he looks forward to "hearing (Obama) speak about finding common ground between Republicans and Democrats."

"Despite our political differences, the President and I share a passion for improving education, especially for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, a belief in the benefits of term limits and redistricting reform for restoring good government, and a strong desire to see more economic opportunity for all Illinoisans," Rauner said in a statement. "I know we can achieve great things for Illinois by having mutual respect for one another and focusing on bipartisan compromise to achieve what’s best for the long-term future of our great state.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin stood with Obama in Springfield when he announced his historic run for president and arrived with the president as he landed in Springfield. 

“Working together, we can accomplish great things," Durbin said in a statement. "The promise of hope and change that President Obama brought to Springfield back in 2007 can only become a reality if we are willing to compromise and find common ground.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA['We're on to Something': Kasich Stuns in NH]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 06:11:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-509277622.jpg

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Wednesday he felt "gratified" by his surprise second place finish in the New Hampshire primary but knows that will make him a bigger target for attacks in South Carolina.

"We labored in obscurity for months," said Kasich, whose stunning second finish means no candidate left New Hampshire as the sole "establishment" alternative to Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz. "I think we'll be one of the ... stories coming out of New Hampshire."

Republicans now will have to take a serious look at Kasich — who focused on positive messages and good governance in strong contrast to Trump.

Kasich said he's "prepared" for negative ads against him and needs to "raise more money" to counter them. 

"I know we can't just go through this like falling off the turnip truck and saying that everything is just going to be positive, because I'm going to have to respond to some of this stuff," he acknowledged. "But I'm starting to really think we're on to something."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Yellen: I Don't Expect Feds to Cut Rates Soon]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 10:32:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yellen-GettyImages-501637200.jpg

The Federal Reserve's policymaking committee does not expect to cut interest rates anytime soon, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday during a Congressional hearing with the House Financial Services Commitee, NBC News reported.

"I do not expect that the FOMC is going to soon be in a situation where it is necessary to cut rates," Yellen saild, noting that the strength of the labor market gives her succor.

She added that she still expects factors holding down inflation to be transitory.

Uncertainty over interest rates had hit bank stocks in recent days. Banking stocks were up, led by Citigroup. Goldman Sachs, up 1.3 percent, gave the biggest boost to the Dow. The S&P financial sector was up nearly 1 percent.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Sikh NYC Actor Tells of Being Barred From Flight]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:19:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SIKH_GettyImages-501439732.jpg

The Sikh-American designer and actor who was barred from getting on a flight back home to New York City because he refused to remove his turban says he is still in Mexico. 

Waris Ahluwalia first related the experience over social media, saying attendants at the airport in Mexico City barred him from boarding his Aeroméxico flight Monday night. 

"They said, 'take off your turban,' just like they'd say, 'take off your shoes,'" Ahluwalia told NBC 4 New York via FaceTime from Mexico City Tuesday. 

Ahluwalia says that as a Sikh, "it's OK to take it off, but it would be out of respect to do it privacy so you're not embarrassing someone." 

The Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund said in a statement Monday: "The turban is an integral part of a Sikh's identity and removal in public is akin to a strip search."

Ahluwalia asked for a private room to remove his turban.

"They then talked amongst themselves and came back to me and said, 'You won't be flying Aeromexico. You'll have to book yourself on another airline,'" he told NBC 4. 

The airline has issued an apology saying in part: "We are a global airline that operates flights in different countries throughout the world and proudly embrace and recognize the diversity of our passengers... We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the unfortunate experience he had with one of our security guards. This incident inspires us to make sure that we strengthen the customer service protocols." 

Sikhism, a 500-year-old religion founded in India, requires its male followers to wear a turban and beard and keep their hair uncut. 

Ahluwalia said he's in touch with the airline and hopes to have a say and be part of the cultural and religious training. He said he doesn't want anyone else to be subjected to the experience." 

"That's not a great feeling. I'm an American citizen, a proud, patriotic American citizen," he said. 

There's no set date yet on when he'll return. 

A recent high-profile court battle involving a Sikh college student from New York City and his ability to wear a turban and keep his beard and hair while serving in the U.S. Army's Reserve Officer Training Corps at Hofstra University ended in the student's favor. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Gives Worship Houses Training]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:53:55 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fbi+dallas+field+office.jpg

About 165 faith leaders attended a new U.S. government program at Dallas FBI Headquarters Tuesday to provide security training for houses of worship.

In a rare interview, Dallas U.S. Attorney John Parker said churches, synagogues and mosques are uniquely vulnerable.

"They want to have a welcoming environment where people can come, and that's at the core of what they do. On the other hand, they have to be very careful about who they let in," Parker said.

Recent incidents highlight the challenge for religious leaders.

Protesters against Islam carrying rifles demonstrated in November outside an Irving mosque.

In June, nine people, including a pastor, were killed by a gunman at a Charleston, S.C., church. The 21-year-old suspect said he was starting a race war.

Faith leaders have to adopt a new kind of planning beyond traditional preparations for fire or weather, according to John Smith, risk management director with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

"The key is to be proactive and plan for it ahead of time and train for it ahead of time, so in the unlikely event something does happen, you're ready and prepared to deal with that situation," Smith said.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas leads The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, a church that welcomes people of all sexual preferences.

"When you realize that places of worship have become unsafe places for many, many people that the FBI reaches out to faith leaders, it's an important way in which we can prepare ourselves," said Cazares-Thomas.

The new Texas open carry law exempts houses of worship, but Cazares-Thomas said many gun owners may not know that. He said precautions for houses of worship include measures for buildings and people.

"We certainly have to prepare our ushers and the greeters on our doors to be extra vigilant, which is very sad, that we have to have that kind of vigilance," he said.

An active shooter drill was part of the training for religious leaders Tuesday. The event for religious leaders was closed to the media.

"We're asking them at this session today to talk about the vulnerabilities of their security plan, the things that keep them up at night. And we don't want anything to chill that conversation. We want them to speak openly and freely," Parker said.

The U.S. Attorney intends to repeat the program to expand the training to more religious leaders.

"This is to get them started. They'll go back to their places of worship and they'll develop security committees and protocols to, not fortify their places of worship necessarily, but make them more secure," Parker said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Telemundo Unveils Plans for New HQ]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:16:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/211*120/021016+telemundo+artist+rendering.JPG

Florida Governor Rick Scott joined executives from Comcast, NBC Universal and Telemundo Enterprises to break ground and officially announced the building plans for Telemundo’s new global headquarters in northwest Miami-Dade.

“I am excited to announce that NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises has chosen Miami as the best location to build their new global headquarters,” Scott said.

The new state-of-the-art broadcast center located at the Beacon Lakes Industrial park on 25th Street and the Turnpike will house all of the properties owned by NBCUniversal‘s Hispanic franchises including Telemundo Network, Telemundo Studios, NBC Universo (formerly Mun2), Telemundo Digital, NBCU International and Telemundo Internacional.

Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises and NBCUniversal International Group said this investment highlights the company’s commitment to the Hispanic market in the United States.

“Our new global headquarters will fold all of our division offices and production studio spaces into one state-of-the-art facility that will help us do business in a more collaborative way,” Conde said.

The new broadcast campus a first of its kind in South Florida is expected to create approximately 3,000 construction-related jobs and generate an estimated $400 million in sales for Florida businesses.

Telemundo Enterprises hopes to have the 450,000 sq-ft facility up and running by the start of the 2018 World Cup.

<![CDATA[Tyson Knocks out Boxer]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:39:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/020916+sam+crossed+boxer.jpg

You've heard about the Washington, D.C.- area, contractor that got Mike Tyson to star in the company's Super Bowl 50 commercial. But have you heard about the guy shown knocked out by "Iron Mike"?

Sam Crossed, aka the Vanilla Gorilla, is a professional boxer who trains at Old School Boxing Gym in Fort Washington, Maryland. The 30-second ad for Michael & Son Services, which is a News4 advertiser, shows Crossed getting punched once by Tyson.

But he actually was hit 10 times in the making of the ad that aired Sunday. It was a fake punch, but it still stung, he said.

"It grazed my lip. He pulled up right at the last second, but he made contact with me," he said. "It hurt a little bit, honestly."

What also wasn't fake was his body slamming to the mat over and over again.

"The next couple weeks, my elbows and knees were scabbed up from falling so many times," he said.

Crossed, who lives in Prince George's County and works as a bartender, is training for a bout later this month at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. He said being knocked out by Tyson has gotten him lots of attention.

"It's been awesome, man," he said. "People I haven't talked to in years have been calling my phone, texting me, saying they saw the commercial."

Asked why he's called the Vanilla Gorilla, here's what he said, lifting his shirt: "'Cause I'm a hairy white guy, that's why."

If Crossed and Tyson really competed, who would win?

"I think I'd knock him out," Crossed said.

<![CDATA[Minnie Mouse and Others Arrested]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:47:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/COSTUME+ARRESTS.jpg

Minnie Mouse, Cookie Monster and Olaf from the film “Frozen” became the latest costumed characters to be arrested in Times Square after a cop allegedly saw them harassing a man for money.

The three colorful characters posed with the man on Sunday, but things turned south quickly when they allegedly started following him and demanding cash.

At one point the characters even blocked the man’s path and insisted that he pay them $20. The intimidated tourist handed over $10, according to police.

That’s when an NYPD officer stepped in and arrested the three characters for harassment.

The characters are popular with tourists, who flock to them for photos all year round. 

“They’re so cute. Yeah, I love the costume,” Chinese tourist Tristy Huang said.

But they’ve been involved in numerous squabbles over the years. Minnie Mouse, Cookie Monster and Olaf are just the latest masked characters to be arrested for behaving badly.

“That’s kind of shocking,” NYC resident Lauren Stegland said.

Spider-Man duked it out with an ice cream truck vendor last August after the vendor warned tourists that he had hassled others for money. The brawl outside Toys "R" Us was caught on camera.

Woody, Minnie Mouse, the Statue of Liberty, Batman and Elmo are just a few of the characters that have been arrested in Times Square over the last couple of years.

Last August, Mayor de Blasio assigned a multiagency city task force to address what he called the "growing problem" of topless, painted women and costumed characters in Times Square and said that one option under consideration is removing the famed intersection's pedestrian plazas. In the meantime, plainclothes NYPD officers have been patrolling the square to combat aggressive characters.

Lisette Gill, of Manhattan, said she has felt pressured by the characters before, but that people just have to stand their ground when approached. 

“They wanted $5 each, and he was like, ‘Come on, give me more.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t have any more, sorry.’”

<![CDATA[Transgender Woman Attacked in NYC]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:42:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/transgender+woman+attacked+subway.jpg

New York City police are searching for a woman who allegedly attacked a 38-year-old transgender woman on the subway and they say the incident is being investigated as a bias attack.

Video captured the exchange on an uptown D train at 125th Street on Jan. 30, according to police. It began with a verbal argument when the suspect asked the victim if she was male or female. Other passengers tried to subdue the attacker. 

The victim, Jennifer Louise Lopez, is a transgender advocate. She told NBC 4 New York her attacker punched her in the face, sending her to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery on her eye. 

"Jennifer is probably afraid for her life," said friend Tanya Asapansa-Johnson of Harlem, also a transgender woman. 

Lopez took a photo of her alleged attacker and posted it on a transgender community website. 

"It's pretty scary when you're attacked for your gender identity," she said. 

Police ask anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.